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Columbus Heading Back To States

By Eddie Lopez

The team celebrates after the win

This Friday your Explorers faced off with the Plant Panthers in the state semifinal game hosted in Tropical Park. The Panther and Explorers both coming off great wins looked to punch their ticket to the state championship game.

First Quarter

After winning the coin toss, Plant elected to receive the ball after halftime and Columbus started off with the ball. The offense got off to a slow start but they were able to convert on third down on a pass from Alberto Mendoza to Rocco Bradley. Then, Mendoza was able to leg out a run on a keeper for a 49 yard gain to put the offense in the red zone. After a few plays, Running Back Agyeman Addae was able to score on a 5 yard rushing touchdown.

7-0 Explorers.

Both defenses would hold up for the rest of the quarter and the score would remain the same until the start of the second.

Second Quarter

The Explorer’s offense really found their rhythm in the second quarter after a scrappy run from Edward “Speedy” Bandy which led to a 8 yard touchdown to tight end Remy Goins.

14-0 Explorers.

Plant struggled to move the ball and after a great stop from Hector Chavez and Dylan Stephenson and then an incomplete pass, the Explorer’s defense forced a punt and gave the offense the ball back with less than 5 minutes remaining in the quarter. After two big gains from running back Addae who was able to break away for a 41 yard run and a 24 yard catch for Jose Leon, Kicker Robert Czeremcha was able to split the uprights for a 25 yard field goal.

17-0 Explorers.

The next drive for Plant resulted in an interception from Bryce Fitzgerald who has 4 interceptions in the last two games. Czeremcha was able to show off his impressive leg with a 51-yard field goal and Columbus went into the half with a comfortable lead.

20-0 Explorers.

Third Quarter

Plant started off the second half with the ball and got into Explorers territory early, but gave the ball right back to the Explorers offense with a fumble recovered by Hector Chavez in the red zone. The Explorers offense kept on rolling with a 10 yard TD from Edward Bandy.

Photo courtesy of CCNNLive

27-0 Explorers.

The next drive would be a summary of what went on all night for the Panthers. The defense forced the Panthers to go for it on 4th down which turned out unsuccessful. However, after a tipped pass in the endzone, Jamel Walls was able to get the Panther’s offense the ball back.

Fourth Quarter

Plant was able to move into Explorers territory for the first time of the night and scored a 21 yard TD pass to Whitt Busby with 11 minutes left.

27-7 Explorers Still Lead.

QB Alberto Mendoza exited the game with an apparent injury with about 5 minutes remaining and did not return. After a punt and another stop from the defense, the Explorers were able to take the game into the end of regulation and punch their ticket to the state championship coming out on top 27-7.

Post Game Notes

The Explorers are heading back to states for the second year in a row.

The biggest take away from this game was the dominance of the defense which showcased its strength for the second game in a row. The offense looked great as Alberto Mendoza had some huge plays and others like Speedy Bandy, Agyeman Addae and Remy Goins had some great plays as well. Kicker Robert Czeremcha also showcased his talent with his impressive 51-yard field goal. Alberto limped off the field with an apparent injury late in the game and did not return. Hopefully, it will not hinder his ability to play on Friday.

The state championship game is set for next Friday at 3 PM against Mandarin at Ken Riley field at Bragg Memorial Stadium.

Photo courtesy of CCNNLive

All videos courtesy of CCNNLive.

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